Work stress is real; even if you love your job, love your co-workers, and find the work rewarding and fulfilling, it will not be without stress. The more you love the work, the more stressful it is because you are attached to it. If you spend 40 hours a week at work, that is 160 hours a month and almost 2,000 hours a year. That means nearly a quarter of your year is spent at work. That is a lot of time, and having work-related stress can tear you down, particularly when that begins to spread into other areas of your life.
We all have to do work; even when we love it, it can be stressful. So, how do we keep the stress at a minimum and prevent such a large portion of our life from taking control of our emotions and lessen the mental toll it can take? That is exactly what you will read here. Here are eight tips for reducing work stress!
This one may not apply to everyone, but it will apply to the vast majority. 80% of the American workforce is made up of sedentary positions. This can include office workers, drivers, or administrators. Essentially any job where you do not move much for long periods. Even factory work is relatively sedentary despite the physical demands of standing for long periods.
The longer you sit, the more your muscles constrict and tighten up. This makes your body stiff and achy, which can stress you out. But most sedentary workers also tend to lean over a computer or a desk for long periods causing the shoulders and neck to stiffen. This area is where a lot of people naturally hold their stress. This will signal to the brain that you’re under stress, even if you are not because your body is tightening up and sending that message to your brain. Your body will not distinguish whether it is truly stress or poor posture, but you will feel the effects.
So, it is essential to MOVE!
This can be done any number of ways, which is good news for you as you can mix it up or find methods you enjoy. You can go for a short walk when you take/schedule breaks throughout the day. . Simply walk around the building or to a bathroom a little further away. You can also stretch or do yoga for 10 minutes every few hours to keep the muscles loose. Sometimes even just taking a meeting outside (weather permitting). Whatever method works for you, try and not go more than two hours without some movement.
Mindfulness and meditation are nothing new. The practices have been around for hundreds of years, but in America, it is growing in popularity. The idea is to be more present at the moment, to allow your mind to relax, thereby relaxing the body. If you are on an important call while also panicking over the meeting next week and wishing you had said something else in the email you sent an hour ago AND about rushing through traffic to get home in time to make dinner, you are not present. Your mind is not relaxed. You are stressed to the max.
Mindfulness and meditation are practices that do not take much time at all. I often have clients start with just 30 seconds at a time so that they can gradually grow into more time. Ideally, we want to work towards setting aside 10-15 minutes at any point in the day to engage in the practice. It may be as soon as you wake up, during lunch when you start feeling stressed, or even before bed.
It also requires nothing to get started.
Simply find a quiet, isolated place in your office or home, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and begin deep breathing. Many Youtube videos and online resources can help guide you as you grow in this practice. But to start, start simply. Remember that this is just a practice of allowing you to train your brain to be present at the moment, non-judgmentally. When you start, thoughts and noises may distract you; all you need to do is redirect your attention when you notice your attention shifting. The more you do this, the fewer distractions shift your attention. This is also why I usually start with 30 seconds, so the client feels like mindfulness practice is attainable.
Admittedly, this one kind of falls in line with moving more. However, exercise is more about physically exerting the body, while moving more is not. Exercise releases endorphins which promote a sense of peace and euphoria in your body, countering any stress you are dealing with at work.
The best part is that exercise does not have to mean spending two hours a day in the gym throwing around heavy weight or running for hours. Unless that is what you want to. Exercise could be yoga, biking, swimming, playing a sport you enjoy, or resistance training. It can be any one of or combination of all these things. You should aim for three to four days a week for at least thirty minutes each time to reap the maximum benefit. Studies show that this amount of exercise is as effective if not more effective than antidepressants….so just think about what it does for your stress levels!
I know this can be challenging with the pace we often keep in today’s world. I can hear all the thoughts in your head already; how can I manage this when I have deadlines, a busy schedule, and not much time for meal prep? However, it can be highly beneficial in managing stress at work (and other areas of your life). Eating certain fats, for instance, has been shown in studies to regulate cortisol levels—the stress hormone. And eating regularly also helps to manage blood sugar levels to avoid spikes or crashes like many people experience when they go long periods without eating. Eating regularly promotes cell rejuvenation, provides more energy, and improves immunity. All of these things aid you in feeling less stressed.
Chronic stress is a dangerous thing. Managing stress through regular eating is a stress management technique that has more benefits than just feeling better throughout the day.
Between work, exercise, meditating, and eating healthier options, you may wonder where you will find time to work. Because on top of all of those things, you still have all the same responsibilities as before! But rest is essential for stress management and overall health.
Rest allows the body to recover and the brain to slow down and work through challenges it has faced throughout the day. We live in a culture where constant hustling and always working hard are glorified, but at what cost? How hard can you grind if you work your body into the ground and it gives out?
Aiming for a minimum of 7 uninterrupted hours of sleep is ideal, but some people may require more. But rest can also be sitting and reading a book, listening to music, or lounging in the backyard. Detach yourself from what is causing the stress and take some time to let everything unwind. The strands will eventually break if you stay too wound for too long.
Meaningful connection is a vital part of human survival. We as creatures need a connection to be happy and healthy. At least once a month, it should be a goal to visit with friends, family, a club you belong to, go out with co-workers, etc. The more connected you feel, the more resiliency you build. This is important when it comes to stress management because the more resilient you become and the stronger the support system you feel you have, the less susceptible to stress you become.
The connection can happen in other ways too. Perhaps you join a fitness class or a book club. Maybe you take a cooking class to learn healthier ways of cooking. You are connecting in those situations as well and forming a community. You can—and should—still make time with friends, family, and others in your life, but joining a group can work a double benefit. It can aid in your relaxation or physical exercise while also providing an opportunity to build connections.
Get a Hobby
Hobbies are a great way to decrease stress. It removes you from the stressor (potentially allows you to connect with others) and can bring a new sense of excitement to your life. Hobbies can be as simple as reading, gardening, or fishing and as extravagant as building furniture or fixing cars. It can be something you enjoyed growing up or a new hobby you have always wanted to try but never had.
Again, this can add double benefits as something like gardening can be pretty meditative. Some hobbies can also help you enter into a community and build connections. Or, the hobby can be done on your providing you much-needed quiet time and time away from others if that is what you need. Hobbies, much like other things on this list, will also provide you with something to look forward to after work or during the weekend, giving you a sense of calmness and destressing you throughout the day.
Talk to Somebody About Your Work Stress in Florida
You may know you are stressed and the importance of not holding that stress in. However, you may also feel like a burden or a complainer if you try and talk about it to co-workers, friends, or even family. While all of these tips can be beneficial in helping you feel less stressed at work, continuing to hold in your stresses can still pack a negative effect.
True You Always Counseling is a wonderful option for Florida residents to have a judgment-free, confidential, and safe place to express their stresses. You can work on healthy ways to manage the stress, prevent the stress of work from seeping into other areas of your life, and learn the triggers of your stress. True You Always Counseling is in Brevard County, Florida, but works with all Florida residents.
If stress from work is beginning to take over your life, reach out to True You Always today and see how they can help! Just follow these simple steps:
- Contact True You Always
- Learn about your online therapists
- Begin feeling more balanced and in control
Other Services Offered at True You Always
Here at True You Always, we offer many services with a wide range of therapists. We are here to walk alongside you no matter what you’re dealing with. Our goal is to provide a safe and accepting space for you to breathe and be your authentic self. Along with therapy for teens, we offer additional services at our Florida practice. You may also be interested in therapy for first responders, work stress, anxiety, and stress treatment, or PTSD treatment and trauma therapy.
Additionally, we offer couples therapy, family therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, therapy for disordered eating, therapy for teens and tweens, support for families with a loved one struggling with ED, therapy for adults, substance use disorders, therapy for spouses of first responders, play therapy, therapy for allergies, and chronic illness. All services are offered via online therapy in Florida so that you can get help from the comfort of your own space.